Metal Complex-Based Templates and Nanostructures for Magnetic Resonance/Optical Multimodal Imaging Agents
Promotion date: November 2, 2012
Promotor: Prof.dr. David Reinhoudt and Prof.dr. Jeroen Cornelissen
In this thesis, new approaches directed towards simple and functional imaging agents (IAs) for magnetic resonance (MR) and fluorescence multimodal imaging were proposed.
Hybrid silver nanostructures (hAgNSs) were grown and studied. Surface modification, therapeutic agents and optical trackers due to their fluorescent properties, were characterized.
The use of (similar) aggregated organic ligands as nucleation points for the formation of protein cages of the cowpea chlorotic mottle virus, was described Stable assemblies were engineered by pure hierarchical self-assembly of micelles.
The synthesis, characterization and study of the cytotoxicity of multimodal gold nanorods (MMAuNRs) for MR and optical imaging was described.
Functionalized carbon-based organic scaffolds were proposed as platforms for multiple lanthanide complexation. These scaffolds show promising results, thereby highlighting their potential for multimodal imaging purposes.
Was your thesis work aimed at applications?
The combination of labelling and imaging techniques for medical purposes, is a field of research that is widespread, exercised by a vast amount of groups worldwide. A new generation of diagnostic techniques and treatments are at stake.
Here in Twente, we were the first to enter this field of research using an approach in which relatively simple chemistry is combined with nanotechnology. Some good first results were there, leading to well argued recommendations how this approach can enter as a grown-up technology in the future.
Now, experiments of growing and imaging techniques are viable on a living cell scale. Experiments on mice, let alone human beings, are feasible in the more far away future, I expect.
One and a half year ago promising results occurred on several topics during my thesis work, almost simultaneously. Before that I struggled with theoretical and experimental problems, mostly due to the unknown approach we were pioneering in. Also some changes in the organization of research at the University of Twente, were harmful for obtaining a clear focus of research right from the start.
How was your personal education during this period, as a researcher and scientist?
My experimental skills and scientific knowledge have grown considerably, of course. Also my feeling of performing experiments and planning them carefully and systematically in this field of research, is much more elaborate now. Also I learned to be more aware of the nice results one obtains along the way, instead of criticising myself too much and in too early a stage, as I am very much a perfectionist.
At the end I think I am more of an experimentalist now than a theorist, as I like to solve problems as they arise by using my hand skills. That I wasn’t aware of when I first started the PhD project.
Also I learned that scientific research is a human activity in which political manoeuvring is an integral part. Being able to continue one’s own work despite of the setbacks that occur, is necessary then. Working with students in the last period of the project, was very rewarding for me. I really enjoyed the positive atmosphere and the nice results that came out of that.
What are your future plans?
The next year I will be working as a post-doc at the University of Padua, Italy. The research topic is somehow related but – quite nicely so! - different as well.
After that period I guess I will leave academic research. I would like to bring in my knowledge and skills gained here, including the ability to solve problems in a quick and practical manner being aware of the organisational developments altogether.
Also I dream of being a yoga-teacher one day, for example on a part-time basis.
What in your opinion is important to help Mesa+ remain successful in the future?
In approaching and contracting talented researchers Mesa+ can be somewhat more cautious, I believe. Next to scientific and experimental skills, also communication skills and an enterprising attitude is favorable for the image Mesa+ is willing to send out into the world.
I am happy to have worked for the L.A.VOZ Latin American Student Association at the University of Twente, trying to come into contact with talented researchers from well-established universities at this part of the globe. I guess there is a great potency here, ready to be discovered.
I like to stress the great work done here at the Career Development Centre at the University of Twente. The employees here encouraged me very much so to continue working at the thesis project, staying flexible as the organization of research changed rapidly around me. Also they were very helpful in discovering my talents and finding out about my personal profile. The interventions will surely be of great importance in fulfilling my future work ambitions.